It’s not boring. It’s baseball. And it’s perfect…

still baseball

Bryan started off his excellent “summer beach movie songs” post with a dismissive aside about “debating a replacement song for the national anthem.” I thought:

If America is decadent and unlikely to recover, which of these two phenomena would be more likely either the cause, or perhaps I should say the most stark effect?

  1. We are now a country in which people can mention “debating a replacement song for the national anthem,” and not be entirely joking.
  2. We are now a country, and have for some time been a country, in which football is more popular than baseball.

Both thoughts are depressing, evidence of a great nation losing its way. Those two are enough to cause concern, without even mentioning the disaster of Trumpism. And the distressing nature of Phenomenon 2 was driven home by a couple of tweets Saturday morning…

First, this one at 9:47 a.m.:

Arghh. Here I am still looking desperately, and usually unsuccessfully, for some affordable ways of seeing some live MLB on my TV without having cable, and this guy has to remind me — gleefully, I infer — that very soon I won’t be able to turn on the blasted contraption without seeing football everywhere.

And just a few moments later, this one from my friend and former campaign comrade Ashleigh Lancaster.

Let’s concentrate on Ashleigh’s since, although it has sad elements, it is at least about baseball.

Since for some reason I was unable to embed Ashleigh’s (maybe because it was her retweet of somebody else’s), I’ll at least share my response to it:

I’m a fan of Ring Lardner, especially of his work on “You Know Me, Al,” but let’s face it: The lively ball didn’t kill baseball. Nevertheless, I respect his points about it — and it certainly helped lead to the unhealthy obsession with home runs on the part of many less-discriminating fans — and respect the debate itself as one of the things I enjoy about the game. It’s right up there with debates we can have about other abominations that have tried to destroy the game within my lifetime, such as the playoff system (we all know that in an orderly universe, the team with the most wins during the season wins the pennant, right?) and the designated hitter.

No, baseball has never been boring, and excellent pitching isn’t making it more boring. It’s not intended to be an unending stream of hits (most of them home runs, if the aforementioned less-thoughtful “fans” have their way). If it were, I wouldn’t be trying to watch it.

It’s a contest, a contest that batters are meant to lose most of the time — which makes it that much more exciting when they don’t. Of course, the best part of the excitement is watching the fantastic defensive feats of the players on the field reacting to the ball being put into play. (Something that you miss out on entirely when the ball is hit out of the park, by the way. Everybody just stands there. Now that’s boring…)

The pitchers are constantly trying to keep the guys from hitting, and the batters are all constantly trying to overcome the pitchers’ and catchers’ craftsmanship. And from time to time, everything explodes into action involving everyone else. But not too often. Just enough.

And it’s not boring. It’s perfect…


34 thoughts on “It’s not boring. It’s baseball. And it’s perfect…

  1. Bill

    The crowd at the ballgame
    William Carlos Williams

    The crowd at the ball game
    is moved uniformly

    by a spirit of uselessness
    which delights them—

    all the exciting detail
    of the chase

    and the escape, the error
    the flash of genius—

    all to no end save beauty
    the eternal—

    So in detail they, the crowd,
    are beautiful

    for this
    to be warned against

    saluted and defied—
    It is alive, venomous

    it smiles grimly
    its words cut—

    The flashy female with her
    mother, gets it—

    The Jew gets it straight— it
    is deadly, terrifying—

    It is the Inquisition, the

    It is beauty itself
    that lives

    day by day in them

    This is
    the power of their faces

    It is summer, it is the solstice
    the crowd is

    cheering, the crowd is laughing
    in detail

    permanently, seriously
    without thought

    1. Brad Warthen

      Thanks for sharing, Bill!

      I’ll share a confession: I tend to confuse William Carlos Williams with Ford Maddox Ford.

      So the poem, for me, is educational — it tells me, “Ford was the novelist, and Williams was the POET…”

      And a good one…

  2. bud

    1. OF COURSE the national anthem should be replaced. It’s a retched, war mongering screed that’s impossible to sing. I’m surprised there isn’t more popular support for its replacement.

    2. Baseball is boring. Football season can’t get here soon enough.

    1. Bryan Caskey

      “Baseball is boring.”

      An opinion held by folks who don’t understand baseball.

          1. bud

            Exactly. Now I question whether it’s even real. To be fair that only applies to Major League Baseball. College can be fun at times.

            1. Brad Warthen Post author

              The steroid scandal. Which wouldn’t have happened if not for the mania for home runs. And you know what I think of that. Home runs are fun occasionally, as a surprising change of pace, but the thing they are a change of pace FROM is real baseball…

            2. Brad Warthen Post author

              I can’t really get into college ball. It doesn’t go “crack.” It goes “dink.” Ruins it for me. Baseball doesn’t go “dink”…

            3. Bryan Caskey

              So you’re saying the actual game of baseball is fine; with the caveat that you don’t trust MLB to keep the players from using drugs.

  3. Bryan Caskey

    Baseball is such a wonderful game. There are so many subtleties in it that are often lost to someone who hasn’t played it. Pitch selection, the running game, defensive alignment, and the fundamentals are so intricate and you can really only see it all work together live because the television broadcast doesn’t let you see the whole field the whole time.

    My son is playing in a summer league, and they are at the age where the rules are starting to be very close to “real” baseball. For instance, last spring, even though it was kid pitch, runners couldn’t lead off base, or steal off first movement. The idea being that when kids are just learning to pitch, you don’t need to add the complication of trying to hold runners on base.

    Now, we’re adding that complexity for this summer which also means – we’re adding in the balk rule. We’re also having to teach the infielders how to keep a runner close – so the shortstop and the second baseman have to communicate with each other about who is going to do that with a runner at second, and then get back to fielding their position.

    Then we added the dropped third strike allowing the batter to run to first, which is another wrinkle. You could really see the kids having to process all this information, and you could really see how they had the realization of “Whoa, this game got complicated really fast! There’s all these other things I have to work on learning!”

    It’s a game of lots of action with pauses leading up to the explosive moments. You savor the lead up to the moments. It’s anything but boring if you know what you’re looking at.

  4. bud

    My kids played baseball and soccer growing up. I much preferred soccer. Too much standing around in baseball. In soccer the kids were always moving as kids are supposed to do.

    1. bud

      Bryan you did an excellent job describing why baseball is boring. Lots of standing around. Lots of head nodding. Lots of nothing interspersed with a few seconds of slightly interesting action. Football season starts soon. And that’s something to be thankful for.

      1. Bryan Caskey

        “Football combines two of the worst things in American life. It is violence punctuated by committee meetings.” – George F. Will

          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            I see that, and I see the way the fans — and perhaps in this instance we should use the full term, “fanatics” — react to it, and nothing further needs to be said about football…

    1. Bryan Caskey

      Looks like a concern about parental consent. Should the state department of health be allowed to solicit minors over the objections of parents?

      It doesn’t strike me as a new standard of idiocy; the bar is pretty high for that.

        1. Barry

          Just mention the HPV vaccine around certain folks and watch the flipping out the is soon to occur.

          I know- we faced that wrath when my own teen son first mentioned it to me (he had learned about it at school) – and then we got him vaccinated.

          Not that long afterward, my wife made a mistake and mentioned it at one of her social gatherings and she faced the ire of several scornful moms who are raising angels that would never expose themselves to HPV. (Except afterwards, one of the moms called my wife and admitted her doctor had- at some point in the past- informed her that she had tested positive for HPV – and had caught it from her husband when he had – unbeknownst to her – a few flings before they were married.)

          Yes- a teen girl or boy- especially an older one- should be made aware of the HPV vaccine that is available- whether their parents like it or not.

          It can save their life.

      1. Barry

        I see you are parroting Ben Shapiro. I get it – even if Ben is an inconsistent as a South Carolina preacher who can’t wait to waddle up to the Sunday all you can eat buffet.

        Heck, even fellow Fox Newser Guy Benson called the conservative reaction “nutty overreach”

        It’s little wonder why these red states are dragging the vaccine rates down. Being stuck in the 17th century will do that.

        Of course that’s baloney. Because “parental outreach” doesn’t explain why Tennessee, under pressure from conservatives has now stopped allowing vaccine distribution school property. School locations have been integral to helping distribute the COVID vaccine, especially to rural communities.

        Now all of a sudden and out of the blue, one doctor in Tennessee has been openly promoting the COVID vaccine to schools and conservatives are suddenly worried about vaccine outreach to children. LOL.


        “High school students from across King County are carrying a powerful health message to their peers. They are talking about human papillomavirus (HPV), the cancers it can cause, and why it is so important for teens to get vaccinated against HPV.

        These activities vary widely between schools, but have included organizing lunchtime tabling events, movie nights, basketball game halftime shows, overhead announcements, and presentations at student conferences and PTSA meetings. Students involved in the campaign earn community service hours, health education and community organizing experience, and much-needed snacks after a long school day. Some groups are as small as three students, while others are as large as fifteen.

        This peer-led approach is showing results. A recent evaluation of the program found that HPV vaccine uptake was 19% higher among school-based health center patients in schools with campaigns compared to schools without campaigns. ”

      2. Barry

        Bryan wrote “Should the state department of health be allowed to solicit minors over the objections of parents?”

        That is an oddly framed question.

        The COVID vaccine’s availability (and approval) to adolescents is being publicized on television, in newspapers, on social media (my children have showed me several ads since I asked them about it) on many different social media platforms popular with children by state health departments, private companies, politicians (on both sides of the aisle) and community groups.

        In South Carolina, DHEC has various flyers available marketed to teens – that proclaim that vaccines are readily accessible to anyone- including teens,. In fact, the effort directed at teens has been ramped up dramatically. IN fact, I was recently at a Prisma Health campus location and observed a poster myself – directed at Teens (not adults).

        Again- in South Carolina, DHEC has taken an aggressive stance encouraging young people to get vaccinated.

        Do you have a problem with that outreach to teens? Or is the conservative position that Tennessee shouldn’t be doing it , but it’s fair game in other states? Trying to understand.

        On July 1st, at a local elementary school in the Columbia area- anyone 12 and up could get a COVID vaccine with no registration or ID required. This was promoted by a local school district and Henry McMaster’s DHEC. Other school districts are doing the same thing across the state. Today is July 14th and not one word from Conservatives about how dastardly this event was or how it was a slap in the face of parents.

        I guess consistency from conservatives on this issue is one of those things that’s a bit hard to pin down since their objections are so wildly inconsistent.

        1. Bryan Caskey

          “Do you have a problem with that outreach to teens?”

          Me? Nah. I’m big on the marketplace of ideas.

          Having said that, I could see how others might have a problem with it.

          1. Barry

            “Others” can have a problem with movie theaters being open past 10pm. But that’s not the issue.

            in this instance, so called conservatives In Tennessee aren’t being theoretical.

            I wonder if they are concerned when anti abortion or gun advocates market directly to teens? Hmm….. I wonder if we have some evidence that they suddenly aren’t concerned with those outreach efforts that bypass parents……….

    2. bud

      Older teenagers absolutely should be equipped with good information relevant to their health. That includes vaccinations but should also include birth control. Parental consent for these important life decisions should not be part of the equation.

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        There’s no question that everyone of every age should have as much information as possible about vaccinations — solid, reliable, reality-based information, so that unless they are brain-damaged, they will run out and get a fricking vaccination.

        But as his wont, bud takes the conversation to a different place. This view fascinates me.

        We all know about how undeveloped the adolescent brain is, right? So why is it a great idea to let people of such diminished capacity make “important life decisions” — ones that will affect the rest of their lives, and the lives of those around them — completely alone, and without the guidance of the people who are their responsible guardians?

        That makes no sense at all.

        Bud will probably veer off into a fierce defense of birth control, about which he is very passionate. But let me emphasize that my point has zero to do with that subject.

        I’m reacting to the assertion that parents should be excluded from helping kids make “important life decisions” — of any kind, about anything. Period.

        1. bud

          It’s a form of child abuse for ignorant parents to not allow their children to make an informed decision about getting a COVID vaccination. Parents should not have that much control over such an important health decision. It’s the same type of decision that certain religious groups make about blood transfusions and faith healing. Republicans have absolutely lost their minds on this issue. Let’s do what it takes to get the country vaccinated.

        2. Barry


          I’m inclined to agree with your point from a philosophical point of view. But that’s not real life.

          As the husband of a school teacher, I know too many examples of children that absolutely DO NOT HAVE responsible parents or guardians in their lives in any meaningful way.

          I wish they did. I pray they did. They don’t. That FACT has generated more dinner table conversations between my wife and I than I care to count. The tragic stories she has told me would fill 20 novels and they are typically more unbelievable from one year to the next.

          No. We can’t base our decisions to inform these children based on a fantasy- that they have responsible adults in their lives. Plenty of them don’t. I wish they did. But they clearly- obviously don’t.

          For those children that do have responsible adults in their lives, the great majority of them are going to inform their parents of subjects as serious as vaccines or other important medical information they learn at school.

          The children with responsible parents are going to know. They are going to be with their children at the doctor’s office or anytime they are seeking medical treatment. In most cases, they are going to know full well what is going on.

          But the kids without parents like that still need the protection that the medical information can provide them.

          We can’t allow our desire for responsible parents for them to hurt them again but not informing them of what they deserve and need to know to protect themselves.

          As my wife has told me too many times- some of the children she teaches are much more responsible than their parents/ guardians.

  5. bud

    I find it fascinating that the Grand Old Party is defining itself as the party of (1) voter suppression, (2) covid 19 , (3) global warming, (4) cruel treatment of immigrants, (5) capitol insurrection. This shouldn’t surprise anyone since back in the day they fought second hand smoke rules, rules to remove lead from gas, rules to alleviate acid rain and ozone depletion, seat belt laws and a veritable cornucopia of measures that liberals can proudly take credit for that have made life better. So let’s continue to fight for measures that work. It’s well worth the effort.

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